I love to cook, it runs in the family. My grandfather was a restaurant owner and chef and one of my cousins is an executive chef in NYC so overall there are definitely some genes that I like to think I got. The past two years I hovered by my dad changing this and that all afternoon so this year I sad, "ya know what?! I am going to do it all." Well, not all, but most. I want to share with you all my ingredients and prep for each dish. Overall, this was way easier than I expected.
The night before
So, I have decided the key to a successful Thanksgiving dinner is spending an hour the night before prepping. It makes the next day less chaotic and keeps the kitchen clean. One of my top tips is to clean as you go. Having an overwhelming amount to clean up at once is no fun.
I was sick of and grossed out by the canned cranberry sauce that old people find weirdly nostalgic. Why are we eating this? It takes the shape of the can on the table, ridges and all. I will never understand why people continue to consume high fructose corn syrup, sugar and maybe 1 cranberry. It took me maybe 10 minutes to make this fresh and delicious cranberry sauce from scratch. And, everyone loved it. So take that ya nasty, jiggly Ocean Spray garbage!
- 1 bag of cranberries (12 oz)
- 1 orange for zesting
- 1/2 cup of honey
- Orange Juice
All you do is put the honey and orange juice in in a pot on the stove. When it starts to heat up, add all of the cranberries. Continuously stir until it looks like a jam. Lastly, add some orange zest. Zesting is simply LIGHTLY grating the orange peal over the pot. Pour the sauce into a bowl of your choosing. Something pretty if you have it. It needs to sit in the fridge for 6 hours so that is why you'll want to do it the night before. That's all, folks.
I prepped the seasoning for the turkey the night before because I figured it would taste better if all the ingredients marinated together overnight. Simple and fresh ingredients are key, don't overdo it.
- Fresh basil
- Fresh rosemary
- Garlic ( I kinda just poured a bunch in haha..)
- 1 cup Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Italian seasoning
All I did was chop this up and put it in a Tupperware to sit overnight. Probably took me 5 minutes total.
This was another quick and easy day-before prep. I just put it in a plastic bag and called it a night! Seriously, it was very easy.
- 1 tbs Dijon Mustard
- 1 tbs Honey
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tbs red wine vinegar
Just put it in the fridge and that's it!
Green beans were my first "famous" thanksgiving dish. They are really easy and if you prep them the night before, which takes 5 minutes. Then the next day all you have to do is throw them in a frying pan 30 minutes on high before dinner and you have delicious green beans. But make sure you are stirring them around every now and then. I also often put a pot cover on top of the frying pan to hurry along the process. I never measure these ingredients out, but just put your beans in a gallon bag and add these ingredients.
- Olive Oil
- Diced Onion
- Red pepper flakes
Sometimes I sprinkle Parmesan cheese over them when they are done cooking.
The next morning I woke up to the turkey already having the gross giblets taken out. Thanks, Dad.
I was pretty nervous about this part. A turkey can go wrong and who hasn't heard a horror story about one catching on fire? I just really didn't want it to be dry because nothing is worse. Well, besides the fire thing. I grabbed the seasoning out of the fridge and added a little more olive oil and stirred it really well. Next, and kind of a gross part, I spread the seasoning under the skin of the turkey. It wasn't too bad really. Then I put a toothpick in to hold the skin down tight. I spread the rest of the seasoning all over the turkey. Then before I put it in the oven, I put water in the base, probably 3 cups and a half stick of butter. My dad made the stuffing the night before, it is kind of his thing, so I just stuffed it in the turkey and stuck it in the oven around 11 a.m. at 325 degrees Fahrenheit with a thermometer in. You'll want to keep checking the temperature because it is done at 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, be sure to baste it a few times. This means you take the liquid from the pan and put it all over the turkey. But don't take too long and let all of the heat out of the oven! Once it reaches the internal 165 degrees Fahrenheit turn the oven off but don't open it. You'll want the turkey to sit for about an hour. I also covered it in tinfoil. In total, this 18-pound bird took about 3.5 hours.
Sweet Potato Casserole
This is a new favorite in my family. Everyone was skeptical last year when I insisted on it, but I quickly turned them into a sweet potato enthusiasts.
- 3 lbs of sweet potato chopped into pieces
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons of butter
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon (but I always sprinkle extra in.)
- 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup mini marshmallows (aka the best part)
First, you will want to peel and chop the sweet potatoes. Place them in a pot of water and bring them to a boil. Once they are tender and easy to mash, strain the water out and start mashing the sweet potato in the pot. Add everything but the marshmallows and make sure it is all stirred in. Next, put this mixture into an oven-safe pan. I used a rectangular Pyrex pan. Put the marshmallows on top and toss it in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 min or until the marshmallows are golden brown.
This is one of my favorite salads of all time and it's basically the Cosi signature salad. See the dressing above if you need a reminder.
- Diced Pear
- Halved Grapes
- Goat Cheese
- Mixed Greens
I used 2 pears for 8 people and it was more than enough. Just toss everything together and add the dressing right before you sit down for dinner.
Things we bought
Ok, so not everything was made by me. We have this grocery store called Crown Market in West Hartford and it is amazing. But if you live somewhere else, Whole Foods has some delicious prepared foods. I got cornbread, mashed potatoes and gravy at the Crown Market because they are just all so good.
Wait, what about dessert?
My sister Claire made an apple pie (secret family recipe, sorry) and we asked our guests to bring dessert. This is always a good thing to ask people to bring if they ask...Makes it easier on you and who doesn't love choosing a dessert? Your guests feel helpful and then you don't have to worry about baking. Win-win situation.
So there you have it! A stress-free Thanksgiving feast. If you're wondering, my dad makes the stuffing with Italian sausage, cranberries and celery...definitely the way to do it. Also, I used Pillsbury crescent rolls as the other bread choice. Maybe that's the canned cranberry sauce of my generation. Whatever, definitely not giving that up :)
Feel free to comment or message me any questions if you're making any of these dishes!